China yesterday demanded a review of crowd-safety procedures as dozens of people remain in Shanghai’s hospitals after a deadly stampede on New Year’s Eve killed 36 and caused the cancelation of celebrations across the city.
At least 49 people were injured, including 31 still serious enough to require hospitalization, the Shanghai government said on its Web site. The stampede — the city’s deadliest disaster since 2010 — started at about 11:35pm, as tens of thousands of people crowded into the historic Bund riverside district for a light show.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) ordered an investigation and told local governments to prioritize safety ahead of the mass celebrations for the Lunar New Year holidays next month.
The China National Tourism Administration issued an emergency notice on Thursday night requiring its local offices to establish procedures to control crowd flows at tourist spots.
While Shanghai authorities said they were still investigating the cause of the accident, eyewitnesses and family members of those injured described scenes where people were impeding the flow of traffic trying to escape the crowds, while others fell on top of each other at a pedestrian platform along the river.
Pictures posted on social media showed people that night packed tightly together in the Bund’s Chen Yi Square, where the incident occurred.
“This is a completely avoidable incident, as using today’s Internet and Big Data technologies’ early-warning mechanisms are completely feasible,” said Yi Peng, an urbanization researcher at Pangoal, a Beijing-based public policy research institute. “Doesn’t everyone in the area have a cellphone? Warnings could have been sent through Weibo, WeChat and all kinds of ways to avoid such a tragedy.”
The government blocked off an area at the Bund for people to lay flowers to mourn those who died in the tragedy.
It also made available a team of experts to provide psychological help to victims and families, according to its Web site and microblog.
The reason for the accident was still under investigation, according to staff at the Shanghai government media office who asked not to be named.
Four of the dead have yet to be identified, the person said.
Two-thirds of the fatalities were female, according to a name list posted by the government yesterday. Ages of the deceased ranged from 12 to 37, the list showed.
Shanghai party secretary Han Zheng (韓正) on Thursday said that the municipality would review the planning of large events, especially those in densely crowded places.
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